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Monday, August 29, 2016

Is Deathstroke coming to Justice League & Batman?

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Earlier today Ben Affleck posted a cryptic video on his twitter that seems more or less like a major DCEU confirmation.  The video was a brief clip of the DC Comics super villain and deadly mercenary Deathstroke slowly walking inside some kind of carrier jet and eyeing the camera menacingly.  Many, myself unfortunately included, have taken this to mean that Deathstroke will be included as a villain in 2017’s Justice League movie, the project Affleck is currently involved with. 

What’s more, given that Affleck will also be directing DC’s upcoming Batman solo feature there’s the strong chance Deathstroke will be going head-to-head with the dark knight in his next stand alone film.  While all of this is still steeped in speculation and rumor it’s certainly gotten people talking and raised a number of major questions about what this could mean for the still uncertain DCEU. 

So the big question this raises is how Deathstroke AKA the Terminator AKA Slade Wilson will fit into the mechanics of the Justice League solo film.  Deathstroke fans will talk your ear off about how he can beat the entire Justice League with his hands tied behind his back but, at the same time, Slade is a thoroughly terrestrial threat.  He’s usually involved in political skullduggery or being hired by super villain agencies like Hydra. 

However, Justice League’s villain is Steppenwolf, the premiere general of a race of evil gods from outer space.  Even if Steppenwolf was going to work through human agents instead of dispatching an army of minions or more literal godlings, the idea that Deathstroke would willingly work for him is pretty suspect given Steppenwolf’s goal of global domination.  Slade could be tricked or forced into working for Steppenwolf, but given the fan obsession with his indomitable nature that seems unlikely. 

What strikes me as the more likely path is that Slade will happen to be around one of the film’s three McGuffins; a trio of hyper-advanced alien computers called Mother Boxes that can be used to open a portal to Steppenwolf’s home planet Apokolipse.  The set-up of the League racing to collect the three Mother Boxes makes the movie a treasure hunt type set-up, which would fit with the film acting as a launch pad for the next few years of DC features. 

Making the hunt for the Mother Boxes an excuse to take the heroes on a walking tour of locations and characters tied to Aquaman, the Flash, Batman, and maybe Shazam would be a sharp way to build hype for what’s coming next without getting too in the way of Justice League’s own plot.  Given that it would definitely fit for Deathstroke to be holding onto one of the Mother Boxes as a way to introduce him and even set him up as a villain for Affleck’s Batman movie. 

Speaking of, the idea that Justice League is already getting the foundation in place for a Batman film seems to imply that movie is coming a lot sooner than expected.  We’ve all pretty much been avoiding the question of “how long till WB says screw it and makes more Batman” but given their trilogy of high profile flops these last few years I’m not surprised that time table has moved up.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if DC’s currently unused film slot in fall of 2018 ended up going to Affleck’s Batman movie, making it the third film to capitalize on any kind of hype bump Justice League might offer. 

Continuing the line of thought that Deathstroke will be the villain of the Affleck solo Batman film that raises some big questions about how the movie will work.  As I mentioned Deathstroke is usually just a mercenary so he rarely puts together the big, end of the city type stuff that Batman’s film adaptations tend to demand in the way of stakes.  

He has menaced all of Gotham on occasion, most notably in the Beware the Batman animated series, but the risk there is that he’d be too similar to Dark Knight Rises’ Bane.  What strikes me as the most likely plot course of action is that Deathstroke is probably contracted to assassinate Batman, with the film structured more like an action thriller to bring it more into Affleck’s directing wheelhouse. 

That approach would be fairly in line with Slade’s role in Arkham Origins, the game that basically launched him into the Batman mythos as previously he’d been a Teen Titan villain.  Even if that isn’t the case I do hope that this version of Slade will incorporate some of the stuff from his Titans days like his origin as a government super soldier program, his butler Wintergreen, or his kids, all of whom also became villains. 

Aside from the logistical questions of how Deathstroke as a film villain would work, I also have to wonder what this could mean for the slew of other Batman foes introduced in Suicide Squad, specifically the Joker.  WB put a ton of effort into showcasing Jared Leto as the new and improved Joker so the fact they’re already shuffling him off screen without even giving him a shot at Batman is decidedly cold, if not also fairly deserved given how bad he was.  

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